Home  >  Sports  >  Cricket



In any family, there are issues

If you’re in an organisation, you spend a lot of time with staff at work. You do have the luxury of heading home and getting away from it every day, every weekend and then you can take some holidays. But on an Ashes tour, that was 14 weeks. In the main, you’d have 18 months or so that was pretty constant cricket with the odd breaks in between.


It becomes like any family and we all know that in any family there will always be disagreements and arguments. And people are going to dislike each other at different stages.


But generally, we build this strong group then, overall, the group begins to manage those relationships. And then the coach and the leaders really become the parents if you like, and just kind of oversee how it’s all going and try to make sure that it’s as harmonious as possible.


And it’s a constant job, just like parenting. You’ve got 35-year-old children on tour sometimes.


It becomes like any family and we all know that in any family there will always be disagreements and arguments. And people are going to dislike each other at different stages.


It was always my intent to try to understand a person as a person, not just as a cricketer. The more that I could understand, what their aspirations were or are, what they do outside of cricket or indeed what they don’t do.


Whether there was family, whether they liked fishing, whatever. It would be, I think beneficial to them if I could understand that because if I could understand that, then I’m in a better position to maybe help them with what they’re doing right at the moment; which is their great love and the great passion, the great skill, which was to play cricket.


If you are trying to understand some of the obstacles that they were facing and help them find a way to deal with those, so that they could just get on with what they’re doing.


It’s their prerogative to let you in as much as they want to or not. Provided that you’re giving them that opportunity, then it is really good for the individual to know that you’re concerned about them and you’re not there just to wring every last drop out of them.




When culture is tested

Team culture, which remains a big issue, is generally most tested in times where you don’t get the results that you’d like to get or somehow you get a result that seemed improbable or impossible.


A standout in my time is the second Test match that we were involved in, in Tasmania against Pakistan. That was at a very, very early formative stage of this group but it was through that partnership of Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer, which got us across the line, amazingly, that we were constantly talking about belief in ourselves. Just trying to get people to understand that they need to deal with what’s in front of them, they needed to understand the process of winning.


The flip side of that was in England in 2005, where we lost the Ashes and there were a lot of things that happened on that tour. Some of the things I had changed impacted upon that result and certainly hadn’t helped.


Tim Nielsen was a fantastic assistant coach but he wanted to be the Australian coach. In my mind that meant he had actually to leave the group so that he could get other experiences so that, when the job came up, he was in the best position to get it.



So we didn’t have him on tour, we had a new assistant coach, Jamie Siddons. He was a fantastic coach but I wanted to make sure that he established his relationship with the players as quickly as he could, so I gave him more responsibility around the players and took some of that off me.


I kind of lost touch with the players. We had a new strength and conditioning coach, we had things that had happened at the beginning of the tour that hadn’t set up the tour well. We had off-field issues that were complicating player relationships.


And to give you one just classic example where I was off the mark. Normally when on a tour, I was setting up something that would be again more talking to the person rather than the cricketer, so on this particular one I thought we would use the time to increase our vocabulary.


We would be learning different words, put them into poems or lyrics or songs or sentences, and present that as we go along. There was an early revolt against that from certain young players and I backed off. That was in hindsight, a mistake, not necessarily backing off but I should have been finding another way.


Even though they were small things, they were just part and parcel of the way we had run the group and the culture of the side.


In hindsight, I found I had made some poor decisions pre-tour and through the tour so that I couldn’t really tap into the mood of the group. It was an incredibly close series but there were things that were happening that were not necessarily aligned to the culture that we’d already established.




He’ll always regret it

We’ve seen the impact of issues with team culture in the fallout of the ‘sandpaper affair’.


Steve Smith, when he first came into the role as captain, was a young cricketer. He was learning a little bit about captaincy and learning a heck of a lot about leadership. And so what he needed around him were good mentors. Really good leaders.


And that’s not just within the team and the team environment that extended to that broader environment of high performance and back through Cricket Australia. I think that was lacking. And I think he was exposed and the ultimate exposure was that decision he made in South Africa.


In my opinion, although unfortunate for him, it’s a one-strike policy when you’re captain of Australia. If you’re caught cheating, which that was, then irrespective of all the reasons behind that and around that, ultimately you had a choice and it was the wrong choice.


Therefore, to me, yes welcome him back as an incredible player, which he demonstrated through England. But in terms of future captaincy? No.


In terms of future leadership within the group? Certainly. There are a lot of experiences that he has had and can bring to that group and all formats of the game that he plays into the future. But it was just one of those moments in his life that I’m sure he’ll forever regret.


Page 1 Page 2



More about: | | | | | | | | |